here in japan it's a wednesday evening. i'm james tengan in tokyo. welcome to "newsline." we start off with a quick look at the hour's top stories. the leaders of japan and the u.s. have agreed to continue to work closely on policies over north korea and plunges in share markets. a u.n. disarmament conference has opened in hiroshima. the city's mayor is calling for faster progress of negotiations on banning nuclear weapons. the designers of the 2020 toerk yoe olympics and
paralympics' main stadium are standing by their plan. they say the facility could be built for less. and south africa's deputy president visits japan in search of stronger business ties. japan's prime minister schenn zoe abe and u.s. president barack obama have agreed to closely coordinate policies over north korea and plunges in share markets. the two leaders talked over the phone for about 40 minutes on wednesday. with the u.s. side proposing the discussion. in the conversation, they welcomed the news that north and south korea have reached an agreement on easing tensions between them. the leaders also agreed to koord nate views on stock plunges around the world. obama expressed a positive view of the statement abe made to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of world war ii. obama also touched on alleged spying by a u.s. intelligence agency on the japanese
government and businesses. that information was disclosed by wikileaks. he apologized for causing any trouble, saying his government is not carrying out acts that could undermine bilateral trust. abe said that if the spying took place, it could result in a souring of bilateral relations, and he would have no choice but to express grave concern. abe asked obama to investigate the matter and brief japan about the findings. delegates from around the globe are discussing ways to reduce nuclear arms in the first city to experience an atomic bomb attack. japan has hosted the event almost every year. he said 70 years after the atomic bomb attack, he hopes world leaders will move forward with a renewed resolution to realize a world without nuclear
weapons. hiroshima mayor said the a-bomb survivors are growing old and have little time left to witness the abolition of nuclear weapons. >> translator: the time has come when we should move negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention forward to outlaw such arms as soon as possible. >> during the three-day conference, the participants will have discussions with the survivors as well as with students from around the world. the head of the panel choosing a new plan for tokyo's main stadium for the 2020 olympic games says realistic costs must be met. he chairs the japan sport council screening committee. he spoke after meeting with the minister in charge of the tokyo olympic and paralympic games. >> translator: cost is the major consideration. at the same time, it's important
to set a well-balanced cost ceiling so the construction companies won't hesitate to submit bids. >> he said the international olympic committee had asked the main stadium be ready by january 2020. he told the panel to choose a design that showcases japan's cutting-edge technology. the committee is expected to endorse a new stadium plan, including budget and schedule, as early as friday. >> translator: i'll report to the relevant cabinet ministers and organizations and seek their opinions before making final arrangements. >> meanwhile, the architectural office that came up with the initial stadium design has released a video defending their work. the office of london-based zaha hadid says the scrapped plan could be modified to lower its cost. >> it was a very serious team of people, of engineers, of
architects who worked on this for two or three years. so it's an enormous investment. >> the architects say by revising the plan and holding competitive bidding, the stadium could be built less expensively without changing the basic design. hadid's office says a redesign from scratch would only invite unnecessary risks. it's urging japan's government to make use of the national plan to ensure the stadium is completed by january 2020. organizers of the 2020 tokyo games are casting their attention toward rio de janeiro. they're watching as the brazilian city races to get ready to welcome the world next year. they're trying to learn as much as they can from the first ever city to host the event in south america. nhk world has the story. >> reporter: a series of test
events were held in rio de janeiro. the organizers in the city are checking how to run events smoothly. members of the tokyo organizing committee visited rio de janeiro a few days after the city began its one-year countdown. they inspected a venue in a district in northern rio which will host equestrian events. they wanted to check preparations and how organizers plan to run events. the international olympic committee hosted the visit. the tokyo officials were guided
along some venues by their counterparts. they visited a liaison center for the interior management, registrant for the participants, and an area for supplies and equipment. tokyo organizers paid attention to how precision equipment with low-heat tolerance was being kept. the members also examined mobile base stations, which are essential for communications. >> translator: we must reflect their experience here through the test events and the real games next year and learn how to manage operations for the tokyo games. >> reporter: many japanese hope to host training camps for athletes coming to tokyo. they are keen to learn from brazil. officials visited their sister
state in brazil. athletes from britain and china will hold training camps there before rio. officials want to see how they, too, can attract foreign teams. >> translator: we want many countries to hold camps in our prefecture since yamanashi is close to tokyo. >> reporter: many other prefectures are expected to follow in trying to attract athletes to their cities and towns. tokyo has five years to get ready for the 2020 games. organizers will need to monitor preparations in rio de janeiro and push forward to make a strong show of their ability to organize one of the world's great sporting spectacles. shigeru sato, nhk world. >> a long checklist for sure, but generating lots of
excitement. thanks for that report. the life insurance market in japan is facing a shake-up. gene otani tells us what's happening in the industry and also has a roundup of today's business headlines. >> thanks, james. the country's largest insurer nippon life is in negotiations to buy a smaller rival. executives want to consolidate their business base as japan's population continues to shrink. sources close to the discussion say nippon life plans to buy more than two-thirds of mitsui life's shares for several billion dollars. near zero interest rates in japan spell gloomy prospects for the insurers. they are responding by acquiring domestic rivals to give them bigger scale as well as companies overseas which offer access to growing markets. meiji yasuda life insurance last
year decided to buy stancorp for $5 billion. the merger talks by the major insurers in japan have been gaining attention from financial industries all over the world. nhk world has more details of what's behind the news. >> reporter: nippon life has long dominated japan's insurance industry, yet company executives have decided to buy a smaller rival. behind the decision is a sense of crisis among the executives. in fiscal 2014, they gave up their leading position in premium income to daichi life insurance. that's the first time the company did since world war ii.
they've been slowly acquiring insurers as japan's market is expected to shrink due to a declining population. and the competition will likely grow fiercer when japan post insurance goes public later this year. the state-backed company is bigger than nippon life. the private firm may try to expand its operations abroad to cope with the challenging business environment at home. but first, it will try to use an acquisition to build up its domestic base. chinese authorities have been busy liberalizing the financial industry and trying to stir up competition among commercial banks. central bank officials have announced the latest move in that direction. they are lifting a cap on interest rates for time deposits
with terms longer than one year. the ceiling used to be one and a half times the base rate. from wednesday, commercial banks are free to set their own interest rates for these longer-term deposits. officials at the people's bank of china say the cap will remain for deposits with terms up to one year as well as for regular savings accounts. chinese officials fully liberalized interest rates on commercial loans to businesses in 2013. they launched deposit insurance in may this year to shield consumers from bank failures. officials at china's central bank also cut key interest rates. despite these efforts, investors in the asia-pacific region remain cautious. chinese markets continue to show strong volatility. the shanghai composite ended down about 1.3% at 2927. the index moved more than 240 points in a day. at one stage, it rose 4%, but it closed at the lowest level since
december. analysts say the rate cut was not enough to give investors confidence in the chinese economy. other markets in the region were mixed. hong kong's hang seng retreated from yesterday's gains and lost more than 1.5%. some indexes were higher. seoul's cospi added more than 2.5%. australia gained nearly 0.7%. here in tokyo, the nikkei average rebounded sharply and snapped its six-day losing streak. the gains came as stocks in shanghai rose for a brief period. our business reporter at the tokyo stock exchange has the details. >> investors welcomed the measures by the chinese government. stocks in tokyo extended gains after the shanghai market went into positive territory. the nikkei 225 rose by 3.2%, finishing at 18,376. the nikkei ended positively for
the first time in seven trading sessions, recovering to the important 18,000 level once again. the more than 3% rise is the biggest one-day jump since last october. the broader topix index rouse about 3.2%. one of the best performing sectors was insurance. this indicates investors are now turning their attention to domestic headlines when picking stocks. it's one of the signs the market is regaining composure. as the yen came off its highs in the currency market, car makers rebounded on hopes of better profit margins. having said that, though, there are signs that investors aren't
fully convince that the turmoil in china is over. companies known to be dependent on chinese markets such as construction machinery makers extended losses. komatsu lost nearly 2% and hitachi ended down about 0.3%. so the market seems to be normalized. aika nanao reporting from the tokyo stock exchange. >> thanks for that. we're bringing you a two-part series this week on how more businesses in japan are adapting to the needs of the disabled. today we look at a hotel on the island of hokkaido that has transformed to become more accessible. >> this man holds a key card over a sensor to enter his room. the door opens automatically. it's just one way that managers here are trying to make things easier for disabled guests.
barrier-free hotel opened in otobe, a town in southern hokkaido. a company that provides social welfare services bought an old hotel. the firm spent about $5.7 million to give it a makeover. the hotel is now barrier free. this room has no steps. the bathroom is spacious. guests can enjoy a warm soak in the hotel's hot spring bath. a special wheelchair takes them down a gentle slope into the soothing waters. >> translator: the bath was nice. it was worth coming here. >> translator: it was easy for me to help my mother take a bath because she didn't have to get out of her wheelchair. i hope more hotels like this will hope in hokkaido. >> members of the hotel staff
can use a special wheelchair to evacuate guests if there's a fire or an earthquake. this man is head manager of the hotel. he sees the expansion of the bullet train network as a business opportunity and a chance to contribute to society. >> translator: we want to offer services you can't find anywhere else in japan. we can do that if we have a good facility. we want to be ready when disabled people from all over japan start taking bullet trains to hokkaido. >> the hotel's hiring practices reflect its social conscience. 20 of its 31 staff members have disabilities. uke sato is a waitress at the hotel restaurant. she graduated in march from a school for disabled students. sato was nervous when she
started working at the hotel. >> translator: i'm not good at being in front of people and serving them. it's not easy. >> but after training, she now serves customers with a smile on her face. sato wants to grow as a person through her job. guests like her positive outlook. >> translator: she takes good care of us. i like her. >> translator: the more customers we get, the harder i want to work to make their stay enjoyable. i'll keep improving my skills to better serve our guests. >> managers hope to spread the word about the hotel nationwide. they want to make it as barrier free as possible before the new bullet train service begins.
here's a look at some of the other business stories we're following. prices of corporate services in japan rose 0.6% in july from a year earlier. the figure marks the 25th consecutive month of increases. one factor behind the rise is competition for hotel rooms due to increasing demand from foreign travelers. a shortage of truck drivers is also pushing up the cost of freight shipments. japan's gasoline prices at the pump have marked their seventh straight week of decline. officials at the oil information center say the average retail price was 136.7 yen per liter as of monday, down 1.5 yen from a week ago. the officials expect prices will continue to edge down next week as chinese economic woes weigh on global crude markets. suzuki motor has launched its first hybrid-power car.
they hope it will help boost sluggish sales. suzuki executives say they'll add more hybrids to their lineup. they aim to increase compact car sales by about 20% to 100,000 units a year. that's it for business news. i'm going to hand it back to you, james. >> gene otani from our business desk. thanks, gene. as one of the world's emerging economies, south africa, is seeking more investment from overseas, the deputy president visited japan this week for the first time since he took office last year. he says his country is looking for a stronger economic relationship with japan. nhk world's mitsuko nishikawa has more. >> reporter: more than 200 people gathered at the south african business forum held in tokyo. who they wanted to see is this key person. the south african deputy
president. ramaposa is known for his economic expertise because of his success in the private sector establishing an investment company. so many japanese companies feel he understands what business is all about. he showed a strong interest in expanding business ties with japan. >> this is what we are here for, to get you to bring your investment to south africa. >> reporter: south africa's economy has not been performing well. gdp shrank by 1.3% in the second quarter this year. but many japanese companies are showing an interest in gaining a foothold in the country and expanding their business on the african continent. >> translator: our company is interested in the energy and mining industry. i'm here to listen to any updates on those areas. >> translator: south africa's
economy is down as one country, but if we take a look at the southern african region as a whole, the country weighs a lot. >> reporter: like many other countries, south africa has been hit by the slowdown in the chinese economy. ramaphosa says they're facing challenges. >> the whole world is concerned about the slowdown of the chinese economy. we are also going to be affected because we are a very key trading partner to china, and they are to us. we are going to focus on our own economy, make sure that we have a stable economy that will be able to withstand the turmoil that the world economy is going through at the moment. >> reporter: he said japan can become a more important trading
partner to help south africa's economy. >> we are diversifying our economy. we want to rely on our friends, and japan stands out as one of our friends. we want to focus on industrializing our economy more so japan can help us because they've got skills, they've go , experience, they've got knowhoe. >> reporter: south africa is the country's most industrialized economy. it needs more foreign investment, and japanese companies are looking for new opportunities. a stronger economic relationship could bring important benefits for both sides. mitsuko nishikawa, nhk world. >> thanks, mitsuko, for that report. you're watching "newsline" coming to you from our studios here in tokyo. let's now turn our attention to weather with sayaka mori, who
joins us with an update on how parts of japan are reeling from the aftereffects of a powerful storm. >> yes, typhoon koni is now affecting northeastern china as well as southeastern russia. the typhoon has become a low-pressure system. it's not a typhoon anymore, but that doesn't mean it has weakened. it still has lots of energy and winds, enough to cause damage across these areas. in fact, an additional 120 millimeters is likely into the next 24 hours. winds are going to be strong as well. and a front attached to the low-pressure system is affecting many parts of japan. temperatures are much chillier than normal in many parts of japan, including tokyo. the high was only 21 degrees, more like october. now, temperatures will be 27 degrees, so warmer than today on thursday in tokyo. meanwhile, heavy rain is on the menu for many parts of taiwan.
taipei at 29 degrees for the high. warmer conditions in beijing. 31 degrees for the high with cloudy conditions. now let's go to hawaii. flash flood watches are widely posted across the hawaiian islands. there is very heavy rainfall that caused flooding in many places. we have video coming out of honolulu. tropical moisture and daytime heating caused heavy showers over the hawaiian islands on monday. honolulu recorded over 80 millimeters of rain, that's six times more than the monthly rainfall. this heavy rain has been causing many issues from flooding and washed out roadways to sewer overflows. schools and various buildings are getting flooded due to the high water levels. residents have been complaining of humid conditions. so the soil cannot take any more water. however, more rain is expected into tomorrow. so flooding, landslides are going to be a very high concern across many areas, including
honolulu as well as hilo. drier conditions expected on friday. now, across the central pacific, there are two systems. one is a tropical depression kilo. then a tropical storm. these systems will stay away from the hawaiian islands, but this one here, this tropical storm, will likely approach hawaii as we go into next week. this one may become a hurricane as we go into thursday. then over the caribbean islands, we have another system to mention. in is a tropical storm named erika. it's a minimal tropical system at this moment but will likely intensify to a hurricane next week. this will likely affect the leeward islands by tonight or thursday morning local time as a tropical storm and then get very close to our pass the north of hispanola into the weekend. these areas will see up to 100 millimeters of rainfall. but these areas are actually hit by drought. but too much rain will definitely cause flooding. now, in the southern hemisphere,
a stalled low-pressure system is causing miserable weather across southeastern portions of australia. on monday a tornado was sighted and hailstorms hit many parts of new south wales. now, cooler than average temperatures and wet weather will continue into thursday. take a look at this. snow is on the menu in many places in the mountains in new south wales and victoria. here's your extended forecast. more to come here on nhk world, so stay with us.
>> we are broadcasting live from paris. it is 1:00 here in france and here are the headlines. the german chancellor gears up for tomorrow's summit in vienna that will be dominated by the migrant crisis. before that, angela merkel will visit a refugee center hit five violent protests -- hit by violent protests. ministers are set to meet to come up with new security measures to prevent terror attacks on public transports. this comes after the terror suspect has been charged with terrorism. further violence breaks out in lebanon as the government affairs